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Montpelier declines consultant’s offer

MONTPELIER — Village council heard an update of the upcoming Bean Days festivities and heard of possible plans for a new business on County Road 13 at its meeting on Monday.

Council also spoke with their silence, with all seven members declining to second a motion to authorize an amended $3,500 per month agreement with its projects consultant, Columbus-based McCaulley & Company.

The new agreement with McCaulley was proposed to replace a two-year agreement that had expired in June. Mayor Steve Yagelski and councilman Chris Kannel both noted prior to the motion dying for lack of a second that the new agreement was basically the same except that it specified a cost increase to the village from $2,000 a month to $3,500 a month.

Instead, council agreed to send out a Request for Proposals (RFP) to McCaulley, the Maumee Valley Planning Organization, Poggemeyer Design Group and possibly other companies, to update the village’s 2001 Comprehensive Plan, and identify funding sources and assist with grant writing for projects identified in the plan update.

Kannel said the subject had been discussed at council’s economic development and strategic planning committee meeting.

“Our concern is the ongoing costs proposed by McCaulley and the fact that (the village) would have to come up with the list of projects,” which McCaulley would then pursue funding for, Kannel said.

Councilman Nathan Thompson agreed. “Let’s see if we can get someone who can do it just as well and be (economically responsible) to the village,” he said.

Bean Days-related activities are scheduled for Thursday through Sunday, July 18-21, with the majority of events — including hot air balloon rides and the downtown bean contest and parade — on Friday and Saturday.

“We’re very excited and we know we’ll have great weather and the balloons will fly,” Bean Days committee volunteer Jeanette Hull told council.

Committee volunteer Greg Lee said eight hot air balloons are set for Bean Days, including one that will offer rides on Friday. Lee also is a hot air balloon pilot and said Federal Aviation Administration regulations had forced other sometimes larger events to cancel their balloons. “Montpelier has eight. We feel good (having eight) for a small event like (Bean Days),” Lee said.

Hull thanked the village for its support of the event, especially the street department and other departments that help in preparing, during and with cleanup of the three-day event, which begins with a yard sale by local veterans beginning at 9 a.m. on Thursday and officially concludes with an 11 a.m. Sunday worship service at St. John’s Lutheran Church.

She also thanked the Montpelier Area Foundation, which is underwriting the cost of the laser light show at dusk on Saturday.

Village Administrator Jason Rockey said two one-acre lots within the village, on County Road 13 south of Access Storage, had been sold recently to someone who has indicated “a possible business development” at the site, he said, adding that he would have more details in the future.

In other action, new council member Don Schlosser took the oath of office, replacing Cheri Streicher, who moved from Montpelier, and Montpelier police officer Stephanie Mills was honored by the American Legion (for additional coverage and photos see Wednesday’s edition).

Council also:

• Learned that Fire Chief Dail Fritsch is scheduled to pick up the village’s new fire truck in Michigan and drive it back on Wednesday. Council in June approved purchase of the AF1 Rescue Pumper for $479,000. The village will make payments over a 10-year period.

• Recessed into closed, executive session to to consult with legal counsel regarding possible litigation.

Pioneer still considering request for 50-foot flag pole at cemetery

PIONEER— The Pioneer Village Council is taking another month to mull over a request to install a 50-foot flag pole and large flag at Floral Grove Cemetery.

Kristin Dawson wants the flag pole at the gravesite of her son, Lance Corporal Zachary Rhinard, a reservist for the U.S. Marine Corps., who committed suicide earlier this year. Rhinard always wanted a large flag in front of his home, but never got the chance, so Dawson requested the 50-foot pole and accompanying 10- by 15-foot American flag at his gravesite, instead.

Initially in favor of the idea, council was less enthusiastic about the plan after realizing various problems with the idea, some logistical, some legal.

“We cannot put it at the gravesite due to the deed restrictions,” said Pioneer Mayor Ed Kidston. “We are more than willing to work with you at any other location at the cemetery you feel appropriate.”

The deed states, according to Village Solicitor Tom Thompson, that the plot is to be used for burial, meaning people don’t actually buy all the land in their plot.

In addition, the grave marker is clearly defined as being stone with a concrete foundation, he added.

Dawson gained some headway in the discussion when she said she was willing to donate the pole to the village.

“That is helpful, because if private individuals are allowed to put up poles, then they are allowed to do with their poles what they want to do,” Thompson said.

Kidston agreed that it would be helpful and believed that would allow the village to move forward as it wouldn’t have to worry about upkeep a generation or two down the line.

Dawson said she was glad they were coming toward an agreement, even if it they hadn’t reached one, yet.

“I think it’s a hell of a contribution,” she said. “I think Zach would be very proud of it; Pioneer can be very proud of it. And all I want is to be in the shade of it.”

One problem, Anthony Burnett, street supervisor, found with the idea was the space.

Burnett is in charge of digging the graves and said having that pole there could cause problems once more plots in the area have been sold and filled.

“If you go into an older section, all the different plots are bought, the headstones are all staggered and when I’ve had a grave in the middle I’ve had to literally lift up headstones to get my equipment in there,” he said. “We don’t dig graves by shovels and wheelbarrows. We’ve got large back hoes, our dump trucks are enormous.”

The family has offered to purchase the surrounding graves and are willing to discuss the positioning, though they still want it on Rhinard’s “front yard” and Dawson could still be in the shadow of it.

Also at the meeting, council:

• Approved changing the rules for selection of officers of the Pioneer Fire Department that included ongoing training.

• Heard a word of thanks from a citizen who received help from the village during some flooding this weekend.

• Approved a resolution allowing Village Administrator Al Fiser to enter into a revolving loan fund agreement with Rapid Machine, Inc. The agreement will involve a $100,000 loan from the village for the company to purchase a new CNC machine.

Barr sees a way for census to legally ask about citizenship

EDGEFIELD, S.C. — Attorney General William Barr said Monday he sees a way to legally require 2020 census respondents to declare whether or not they are citizens, despite a Supreme Court ruling that forbade asking the question.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Barr said the Trump administration will take action in the coming days that he believes will allow the government to add the controversial census query. Barr would not detail the plans, though a senior official said President Donald Trump is expected to issue a memorandum to the Commerce Department instructing it to include the question on census forms.

The Supreme Court recently blocked the question, at least temporarily, saying the administration’s justification “seems to have been contrived.” That was a blow to Trump, who has been pressing for the government to demand information about citizenship.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s experts have said requiring such information would discourage immigrants from participating in the survey and result in a less accurate count. That in turn would redistribute money and political power away from Democratic-led cities where immigrants tend to cluster to whiter, rural areas where Republicans do well.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday that Trump wants to add the demand for citizenship information because he wants to “make America white again.”

Meanwhile, the Justice Department is replacing the legal team that has been pursuing Trump’s efforts, putting in place a new team consisting of both career and politically appointed attorneys.

The new team, named in court papers, includes Deputy Assistant Attorney General David Morrell, a former Trump White House lawyer and law clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas; Christopher Bates, who previously worked for Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, and four career Justice Department attorneys, Glenn Girdharry, Colin Kisor, Christopher Reimer and Daniel Schiffer.

James Burnham, a top lawyer in the department’s civil division who had been leading the team, had told Barr that a number of people who had been litigating the case preferred “not to continue during this new phase,” the attorney general said.

The new team may find it easier to argue the administration’s new position, said an administration official, speaking only on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to comment for attribution.

Barr said he didn’t have details on why the attorneys didn’t want to continue, but “as far as I know, they don’t think we are legally wrong.”

Barr said he has been in regular contact with Trump over the issue of the citizenship question. “I agree with him that the Supreme Court decision was wrong,” the attorney general said. He said he believes there is “an opportunity potentially to cure the lack of clarity that was the problem and we might as well take a shot at doing that.”

The Trump administration has argued that it wanted the question included to aid in enforcing the Voting Rights Act, which protects minority voters’ access to the ballot box. But Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four more liberal members in last month’s Supreme Court decision, openly skeptical about that justification.

It’s unclear what new rationale for asking the question the administration might include in a presidential memorandum.

Barr said the change in attorneys working on the issue came about after Burnham approached him and “indicated it was a logical breaking point since a new decision would be made and the issues going forward would hopefully be separate from the historical debates.”

“If they prefer not to embark on this next phase, then I thought it could make sense to change,” Barr said.

Pelosi, meanwhile, said in a letter to colleagues that the full House would be moving forward with a vote to hold Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress after the administration failed to comply with subpoenas regarding the census question.

Barr spoke to the AP after touring a federal prison in Edgefield, South Carolina, where he met with inmates and staff members to discuss the criminal justice reform law that Congress approved and Trump signed into law last year.


Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Alan Fram in Washington contributed to this report.

County charter petition found invalid

An effort to bring Williams County under a charter form of government hit a stumbling block Monday as the board of elections found the petition seeking to bring the topic to a vote invalid.

The elections board found that the Williams County Alliance group, which spearheaded the effort to get the charter question on the ballot, had collected and submitted to the board 2,077 valid signatures, far more than the 1,364 required for the initiative to move forward.

However, County Elections Director A.J. Nowaczyk said that based on his conversations with the board’s legal counsel — County Prosecutor Katie Zartman — and in his own opinion, language in the proposed charter issue exceeds the scope of the powers afforded to local governments by the state.

The Alliance has proposed the charter as a way to legally oppose Artesian of Pioneer’s (AOP) controversial plan to drill into the underground aquifers that span a nine-county area in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana — commonly referred to as the Michindoh Aquifer — and sell up to 14 million gallons a day of Michindoh water to entities outside of the aquifer area.

AOP, owned by Ed Kidston, who’s also the mayor of Pioneer, has drilled a test production water well on a site on Fulton County Road S, just northwest of Fayette, and is awaiting approval by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

As a statutory county, Williams County’s governmental authority is under the power of the state. A charter would create so-called “home rule,” in which residents would have greater say in their government through the right of “initiative, referendum and recall,” according to Alliance chairperson Sherry Fleming.

About two dozen Alliance members and supporters attended the board meeting and several booed following the vote.

Following the vote on Monday, Fleming said the outcome was “not unexpected” since similar efforts in multiple other Ohio counties have been stymied, either by local courts, the secretary of state’s office or the state legislature.

However, she said the Alliance will continue to fight to move the effort forward. The Alliance’s legal counsel, Toledo-based attorney Terry Lodge, and Alliance members were discussing their next step immediately following the meeting. Elections board members said Monday’s outcome can be challenged until a July 31 deadline.

“It’s disappointing that the constitutional rights of people mean nothing,” Fleming said.

Board members Scott Towers and Jeff Erb voted in favor of Nowaczyk’s recommendation to find the petition invalid. Board member Paul Duggan opposed the recommendation.

The board meeting was initially scheduled for July 16 but was moved to Monday after Lodge sent the board a letter requesting that the charter petitions be certified and the results forward to the county commissioners by the July 8 deadline for the Nov. 6 general election.